JRS Volume #6; Issue #5


Burning Man participants.

What do the year-round employees of Burning Man do all year round? Here’s one thing: We spend time attending meetings to ensure the survival of our event. Though the struggle isn’t the same as it was in 1997 and 98, it’s different now. We are faced with a few things that could use a little help from you the participant.

There are two messages here:

    is about two (of 5) public meetings sponsored by the BLM. There is an URGENT NEED for Burning Man participants to represent themselves at a meeting in Sacramento on MONDAY, DECEMBER 3, and another in Reno on TUESDAY DECEMBER 4. These meetings are directly related to our home on the Black Rock Desert.
    asks all of you to help us (the Project) to get connected to our politicians in Washington. You never know when you might need help from an elected official!


I’ll say it again: “There is an URGENT need for Burning Man participants to represent themselves at the meeting in Sacramento on MONDAY, December 3, and another in Reno on TUESDAY December 4.”

Q: WHAT is this meeting?

A: It’s a “workshop” for users of the Black Rock Desert to contribute ideas to the Bureau of Land Management on how the NCA http://www.BlackRockHighRock.blm.gov should be managed. Burning Man is held on the Black Rock Desert, and we pay a huge (1/2 million dollar, yesÅ $500,000) fee to the BLM for use of the area. SO, we should show up in proportionate numbers to express our opinion, shouldn’t we!????

Q. Why should I CARE?

A. If you attend Burning Man, and would like to attend in the future, and would not like to see UNFAIR limits and restrictions placed upon the event, we need your voice. There are some people that would like to place ARBITRARY limits on the number of participants who attend the event. Those who are trying to do this do so without examining facts regarding our environmental record. They do it simply from fear. Additionally, many of you now return to the Black Rock Desert at other times of the year. As a user of the desert, this is the time to meet and communicate with the wide variety of other users. The plan these meetings will help produce will govern the management of the Black Rock Desert for a minimum of 10 years. All users have the capacity to work together to create a plan that benefits everyone fairly. But there are a variety of restrictions that MAY be placed on different users if they don’t we don’t work to lay the groundwork for this process. This is the beginning of what will be an ongoing effort until the management plan is finished.

Q. If I go, what should I do or say to help the Project?

A. I’ve attended a number of these types of workshops over the last 5 years. This is a fairly significant meeting. We believe there may be some attempt to restrict our location to the exact same one we have now which we’re not totally in favor of, but, more importantly, there may also be an effort to arbitrarily restrict our population.

Our event uses 3.75 square miles of land. Relative to the overall size of the Black Rock Desert, this is actually a very small portion of the area. The organizers spend thousands of dollars attending meetings with the BLM as part of the permit process. We are given a permit and a list of stipulations. These “stipulations” are the rules we must follow so we can return again the next year. The BLM said in our most recent post-event meeting that this was the best year yet. We continue to solve problems that they identify. We also proactively solve problems that they haven’t identified. This year we cleaned up the playa faster and more efficiently, and our site yielded less trace of our presence than in any previous year. This success was due to a number of factors, not the least of which was your participation in our community cleanup.

The issue here is not the number of people who use the land, but how they use it. We are an extremely responsible community and we need to communicate this message. In addition to caring for the desert during our tenure on the playa, Burning Man contributes volunteer hours to the BLM throughout the year. We are an enormous public resource for protection of the desert. The Earth Guardians are the educational outreach arm of Burning Man, and many of their members have given their time to BLM projects. Our commitment as a community and as individuals just doesn’t stop.

What did you do to fulfill your responsibilities while in the desert? Have you brought other friends out there at other times and educated them on how to survive while leaving no trace? We need you to communicate this to the BLM and to other users. There are often misconceptions about who attends Burning Man. YOU can help dispel the myths.

Q. Can I contribute via email?

A. I don’t know yet. I’ll have a better idea after we attend Monday’s meeting in Sacramento. There may be an email address for this initial stage. If there is you can bet your sweet bippy that I’ll serve it up for you with a report. There does seem to be an email list one can join for ongoing information, and email contact info on the web site listed above.

Q. Why are you letting me know at the last minute about this?

Because we didn’t even receive a week’s warning ourselves and had zero time to craft a message to the community until now.

Q. Can you give me more info on what the heck a National Conservation Area is? Are they good or bad things? How can it benefit the desert its the users?

A. In 1999 and 2000 I spent a significant amount of time on the Internet researching National Conservation Areas. There aren’t many . They seem to appeal to the BLM as they increase funding to an area. They appeal to environmental and conservation groups because the designation is made by Congress and typically define important natural resource reasons that justify a level of protection above what general management of an area might already warrant. I’m told it’s the lowest designation of this kind. Above NCA is National Monument status and then National Park status.

I won’t go into the politics of it all, but the area surrounding and including the Black Rock Desert was designated as a National Conservation Area by Congress. The bill was signed by Bill Clinton as he left office in December of 2000. http://www.wildnevada.org/BRNCA/the_act.htm Some of you may think it’s a good idea, and others may not like the idea. But this isn’t the best time to debate what is a done deal. It’s now our chance to make it work for everyone. The area includes the playa, hiking areas, some wilderness areas (restricted from motor vehicle use) that had been waiting protection for some time, and some grazing land. It effects a wide number of users.

It would seem that efforts are being made to minimize disruption of current uses, and also protect the unique landscape and view which is nearly untouched today.

We should all endeavor to work with the other users of the desert to give input towards creating a recreational management plan that supports diverse recreation in the area while taking care to also conserve the natural resources of the millions of acres that the designation encompasses.

Users of the Black Rock Desert range from rock hounds, wind sailors, hunters, horseback riders, off road vehicle enthusiasts, historians, campers, photographers, ranchers and mining. Special events such as Burning Man, land speed trials, and rocketeers, are given a Special Recreation Permit to hold events in the area. We expect to continue to hold Burning Man on the playa in the Black Rock Desert , National Conservation Area. The legislation actually refers to the possibility under “Findings” and under “Uses”: ” (3) PERMITTED EVENTS- The Secretary may continue to permit large-scale events in defined, low impact areas of the Black Rock Desert playa in the conservation area in accordance with the management plan prepared pursuant to subsection (e).”

The “management plan” referred to is what we’re faced with right NOW. The public meetings we’re asking you to attend are the beginning of a 3 year process of creating a management plan for the area. This plan will be an Environmental Impact Study (EIS). The BLM is a year into the process, and now is the time for public input. In the next stage, the BLM will produce and release a Draft of the EIS/management plan. Then we’ll all have an opportunity to comment on its content.

Those of you who’ve been on the JRS for several years will remember when we did this in 1999. (not to be confused with the letter writing efforts in 1998!) A very significant number of Burning Man participants sent in letters at that time. Their voices were heard and we did effect the draft review. Unfortunately, the NCA designation requires a new management plan. And so, we’re at it again.

Q. Why should I get off my ass and drive to one of these meetings and sit in a stuffy room with stuffy government bureaucrats?

A. Well, I kinda like the BLM folks, they’re mostly outdoorsy people themselves. They really aren’t THAT stuffy. The rooms are usually fairly well ventilated. And, if you’re not doing something REALLY important and you’re within a 60-90 minute drive of either meeting place you’re missing an opportunity to contribute to the future of the Black Rock Desert AND the future of BURNING MAN. And doing something for a higher cause other than watching TV feels really really good. Don’t just trust me. “Just do it.” Oh, I wanted to say that so badly.

Q. Okay, where’s the info?


<info from the BLM>

We need your input to develop the resource management plan for the black rock desert – high rock canyon emigrant trails NCA.

The BLM invites you to attend one of the collaborative planning workshops listed below and provide your input into the Resource Mgmt Plan for the BRD-HR Canyon Emigrant Trails NCA and associated Wilderness Areas……….. The workshops will be held from 5pm to 9 pm on:

  • Wed. Nov. 28, Winnemucca
  • Thurs. Nov 29 Gerlach
  • Friday, Nov 30, at the BLM Field Office, 602 Cressler St, Cedarville, CA
  • Monday, Dec 3, at the Scottish Rite Masonic Center, 6151 H St, Sacramento CA
  • Tuesday Dec 4, at the Nevada State Office, 1340 Financial Blvd, Reno, NV

BLM staff will be at the workshops to explain the process for developing the Plan and to answer any questions. Several methods will be available for you to submit your comments, including oral, written, and electronic. Since there will be no formal presentations, it is not necessary to arrive as soon as the doors open. People may enter and leave at the convenience at any time during the scheduled hours.

<end BLM transmission>

Q. What about part two?

A. Hold your horses here it is.

— Politicians —
— Time for Burning Man to really network

Who Cares About Politics? You? Then Read On….

Burning Man has always been about making connections between people, connections that otherwise might never happen. Here’s a chance (we hope) for another chance connection, an opportunity for some of you to help secure Burning Man’s future.

As you all know, our event occurs on land administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Like any public agency, the BLM is overseen by an elective body, in this case by the US Congress. We have a good working relationship with the state and district office of this agency, but it’s always good to have a few more friends on our side who can make the case for our continued use of public lands–which is where you come in.

We’re looking for participants who have connections to elected officials, who can help us explain to them what Burning Man is all about. Maybe you volunteered for a member of Congress, or they have a house next to yours in the summer time, or you gave them a big contribution last time around. The specifics aren’t important, the personal connection is.

Please take a minute to write an email to politics@burningman.com with your details. We’re most interested in elected officials in California and Nevada, but all connections are potentially useful. Let us know who you know and how you know them. Once we’ve looked over the responses we’ll get back in touch with you about how you can help us ensure our future.

Thank you all, we now return you to your regularly scheduled playa….

And, if you don’t get the message the first time, trust me, you’ll see these both again one way or another!

thanks to all who contributed suggestions on getting text out to you all without stray marks migrating from my Mac to your PC. I received varied suggestions. I’ll be working my way through them until I’m successful. If you typically see odd characters in emails from me, consider yourself my test case and let me know when they disappear. Today I’m simply saving everything as a text file, and migrating that to my Outlook Express.

Meow to all who love to meow.


Maid Marian
Burning Man
jackrabbitspeaks(at)burningman(dot)com (for questions and post requests)

The JRS: guaranteed to be interesting every now and then.

old rabbits: www.burningman.com/blackrockcity_yearround/jrs/